The Illegal Migration Bill unveils the government’s new plans to put an end to Channel migrant crossings. Under the proposals, asylum seekers who arrive to the UK by small boats will be detained within 28 days of their arrival without bail or judicial review, and then most likely deported back to the country they fled or to a ‘safe third country such as Rwanda’.
These asylum seekers will also be banned from claiming UK settlement, citizenship or re-entering the UK if they are removed and modern slavery laws will not prevent removal.
Home secretary Suella Braverman has defended the bill, claiming it is ‘in compliance with all of our international obligations’, despite telling Conservatives the plans were ‘more than 50%’ likely to breach the European Convention of Human Rights.
The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, have raised concerns over the proposals, arguing they ‘would amount to an asylum ban- extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how genuine and compelling their claim may be, and with no consideration of their individual circumstances.’
The children’s charity The Children’s Society is also critical of the bill, calling it ‘incredibly alarming’ and suggesting it may discriminate against children, since ‘with the Home Office’s current practice of incorrectly deeming scores of children to be adults and treating them as such’ the bill ‘could also see numerous children who are fleeing conflict, persecution and danger, wrongly removed from the UK with no means of redress.’
Despite the human rights concerns, both Braverman and Rishi Sunak believe the new plan is the only way to ‘break the model of the people smuggling gangs’ while shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has called the bill a ‘gimmick’ which does not ‘actually solve’ this problem.
Immigration charity Refugee Council’s CEO Enver Solomon has said ‘This is not the British way of doing things. It is an approach more akin to authoritarian nations that walk away from international human rights treaties, such as Russia and Belarus.’ Solomon suggests what is needed is an approach which ‘focuses on compassion and competence, creating safe and orderly routes for refugees to reach the UK, such as refugee visas, and always give people a fair hearing so their rights are respected.’